As Ralph and Kim Capaldi coped with their daughter Isabella’s cancer treatments, they turned to Why Me & Sherry’s House for support and camaraderie.  Now, thirteen years after Isabella’s passing, the Capaldi’s continue to honor her memory through Bella’s Ball, an annual fundraiser that has become a local Valentine’s staple for many.

Says Ralph Capaldi, “Pediatric research is important.  But families of cancer patients also need financial and emotional support.  Research money doesn’t go to that, and it shouldn’t.  That’s where Sherry’s House fills a critical need.”

Indeed, the Why Me & Sherry’s House organization currently serves over 500 families whose children are battling some form of pediatric cancer.  Any family with a child being treated at a Massachusetts hospital is eligible for Why Me services.

Why Me was founded in 1985, and later established Sherry’s House as a comfortable retreat for families.  In addition to providing free housing while families receive treatment, Sherry’s House offers a wide variety of programs for patients and for their caregivers.

The Capaldis have made Why Me & Sherry’s House their crusade.  Now in their 11th year organizing Bella’s Ball, their efforts have raised about $150,000 for the organization.  The Ball has grown from about 125 people its first year to over 400 guests this year.

Bella’s Ball is meant to be a fun night out, but it is also a time for support.  “We have a sit down dinner, live music, silent auctions, games, a 50/50 raffle” says Capaldi. “We also have a time of remembrance, we remember Bella; others who are going through this experience or who have gone through it come up and speak.  There are a lot of tears and hugs.  But then we get down to having fun.”

Tickets for Bella’s Ball are $50 each and may be purchased by going to the Why Me website at www.whyme.org, or by calling (508) 757-7734.  People can also e-mail Ralph at rcap@novonordisk.com or calling him at (508) 667-9652.

Capaldi emphasizes that there are no tickets available at the door.  “We put together a seating plan, like at a wedding” he says.  “A lot of people we already know, and we’ll seat friends together.  If we don’t know them, we’ll call people and see if they know others who are coming, or we’ll ask their age group or where they’re from.  Then we try to seat them with people we think they’ll have a great time with.”

Bella’s Ball is held at The Manor in West Boylston.  “They have just been great” says Capaldi.  “They always make a contribution back to Why Me after the event, and they are great to work with.”

There will be a full course sit-down dinner.  Live entertainment is provided by Steve Anthony and Persuasion.  There will be a silent auction consisting of items donated by area businesses and friends of the Capaldis.  In addition, Sure Shots promotions offers a silent auction on popular sports memorabilia, and donates a large portion of the final bid price back to the organization.

It all seems like a pretty good value for $50, and that’s the point.  “We have always wanted to keep the ticket prices reasonable” says Capaldi.  We want to make this a fun, affordable alternative.  And it’s always around Valentine’s Day so it makes a great couple’s night out and it’s for a great cause.”

What: Bella’s Ball to benefit Why Me & Sherry’s House

When: February 15, 2014

Time: 6:30pm – the wee hours

Where: The Manor

42 West Boylston St.

West Boylston, MA 01583

Cost: $50 – Tickets MUST be purchased in advance

Tickets or more info: (508) 757-7734 or www.whyme.org